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Yusei Kikuchi’s brilliance continues as Blue Jays prevail over Phillies



Sometimes it’s a leg kick, as it was when he struck out Alec Bohm in the first inning of a terrific pitching duel at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.

Other times, Yusei Kikuchi’s celebration is a hop off the mound, as it was when he got Philadelphia Phillies slugger Bryce Harper swinging in the fourth.

And then there’s the modified fist pump that the rejuvenated Jays lefty did when he fanned Nick Castellanos later in that same inning.

The on-mound theatrics are just part of the show, however, as Kikuchi has emerged as a critical force in the sizzling Jays rotation.


The animated lefty continued his rejuvenated season, allowing just one run in six innings in the Jays’ clutch 2-1 win over the Phillies before a sellout crowd of 42,615.

The Jays’ offence did just enough, scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth to improve to 67-54 as the scent of a playoff race begins to get a little stronger around these parts.

And it was another night in which the continued excellence of Kikuchi added more superlatives.

“Most of the time, it’s his reaction on strikeouts and seeing the joy he is pitching with,” Jays manager John Schneider said when asked what stands out about the Japanese southpaw’s sensational season thus far. “Watching him work in between starts and evolving as the season went on and looking at a really confident pitcher has been really cool.

It’s been much more than that, of course, considering entering spring training Kikuchi’s role with the Jays was very much in doubt.

Now, all he has done has gone six consecutive starts allowing one run or fewer, matching Dave Stieb and current teammate, Hyun Jin Ryu.

“You look at 365 days ago and where he was (relegated to the bullpen) and where he is now (one of the best pitchers in the league) and it’s awesome to see a player put in the work and see the results,” Schneider said.

In his latest start — his 24th of the season — Kikuchi was superb, a necessity given the pitcher’s duel that unfolded in the opener of the quick two-game series against the Phillies.

Jays hitters certainly had their hands full with Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, who allowed just three hits while walking four over seven innings.

But with Kikuchi doing his thing, it was enough to win a game that Schneider later described as having a playoff feel.

“He was throwing lightning bolts the first three innings,” Schneider said of Kikuchi, who trimmed his post all-star break ERA to 1.29, second lowest in the majors. “It’s a really tough lineup to navigate, about as deep as you can get. I thought it was one of the best outings we’ve seen from him.

‘He was outstanding again.”


While there was no question that Kikuchi was dealing, Schneider took advantage of a rested bullpen and the return from the injured list of closer Jordan Romano to attempt to shut down the Phillies.

It started with a four-batter seventh from Yimi Garcia, followed by deadline acquisition Jordan Hicks striking out the side in the eighth.

That set the stage for the return of Romano, pitching for the first time since July 28. The velocity was back, as was the excellence, as Romano’s fastball eclipsed 97 miles per hour in a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the save, his 29th of the season.

“It’s really cool the way the bullpen is built right now,” said Schneider, who is now doubt salivating at the opportunities that exist with the two Jordans – Romano and Hicks – plus the rest of the reliever group. “(With Romano) it takes a certain mentality to close out games, let alone a one-run game against the top of their order. Very nice to have him back and look forward to having that group down there for a while.”



For a team that has had so much trouble scoring runs in critical situations, the Jays finally had something go their way in the eighth inning.

A leadoff walk by pinch hitter Nathan Lukes started it, followed by a Whit Merrifield single. When Vlad Guerrero Jr. walked to load the bases, the Jays thought they had the winning run on a George Springer grounder, only to see Lukes thrown out in a tight play at the plate.

Alas, Cavan Biggio was hit by a wild pitch from Seranthony Dominguez to bring in Merrifield with the go-ahead run. While more of a painful RBI than a powerful one, it was reflective of the contributions Biggio has been making lately.

“We worked some walks, we battled,” said Biggio, who had a pair of walks off of Wheeler.  “From our hitters, we saw a lot of pitches and we were able to get on base. Being able to manufacture a run was huge especially with Romano coming in.”

It was another clutch night for Merrifield, who had a pair of hits and now has 42 since the all-star break, most in the AL. Over his previous 34 games, Merrifield is hitting a lofty .353 and a tidy .304 on the season.


The latest step on shortstop Bo Bichette’s return to the lineup was washed out Tuesday night in Buffalo where the all-star was scheduled to be the DH for the triple-A Bisons.

The initial plan was to follow that outing with a game in the field on Wednesday as Bichette recovers from patellar tendinitis in his right knee. It remains to be seen what the amended plan will be after the untimely rainout.

The Jays are certainly being cautious with Bichette, though a return to the big club this weekend remains a possibility. There certainly is a need for the return of the team’s most prolific bat.

Meanwhile, the rains at Sahlen Field also wiped out a scheduled outing for reliever Chad Green, who is cleared to return from his rehab assignment after suffering a concussion last week. Another reliever, Trevor Richards, was also slated to get some work.



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Garnacho on target as United beats Crystal Palace in League Cup defence



MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Seven months after lifting the trophy, Manchester United made a successful start to its defense of the English League Cup on Tuesday by beating Crystal Palace 3-0.

Alejandro Garnacho and Casemiro fired the holders into a 2-0 first-half lead at Old Trafford and Anthony Martial added a third after the break in the third-round match.

It is now back-to-back wins for Erik ten Hag’s team, which has endured a disappointing start to the season.

The dominant performance against an understrength Palace followed Saturday’s narrow victory at Burnley and will give United fans hope the team has turned its form around.


“The mood is always good, but of course when you are not winning at United there is disappointment, and there is frustration, but the togetherness is always there,” Ten Hag said. “We know we are not now in the position where we want to be. So we have to build up, we have to catch up and then you have to go from game to game, working on the process and working on the results. Don’t get too far ahead.”

The League Cup ranks fourth among English soccer’s most important trophies. But Ten Hag still savored last season’s success.

Victory against Newcastle in February’s final at Wembley Stadium ended the club’s six-year wait for a trophy and saw Ten Hag deliver silverware in his first season at the club. He went on to also reach the FA Cup final, only to lose to Manchester City, and also guided United back into the Champions League to mark an impressive campaign.

Things have not gone so well this term, with his team losing four out of five games before beating Burnley 1-0.

This latest victory was far more convincing, even if Palace benched regular starters Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Joachim Anderson and was also without forward Odsonne Edouard.

Ten Hag also made changes with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund on the bench and Christian Eriksen absent.

Mason Mount, however, made his first appearance since Aug. 19 after returning from an injury.

Garnacho fired United ahead in the 21st minute after converting Diogo Dalot’s cutback in the box.

His low shot had too much power for Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who had only just come on as a substitute for the injured Dean Henderson.

Johnstone was tested again moments later when Dalot blasted an effort from an angle, which the keeper blocked.

He was beaten again, however, in the 27th, this time by Casemiro, who headed in Mount’s corner to double United’s lead.

Martial added a third 10 minutes into the second half when firing across goal after meeting Casemiro’s looping ball to the far post.

United plays Palace again in the Premier League on Saturday and the Londoners showed their threat when twice forcing saves from ‘keeper Andre Onana later in the match. But manager Roy Hodgson did not sound confident about securing a different outcome when the teams next meet.

“We are going to have to become a totally different team in the way we approach the game and the way we play the game,” he said.


Third-division Exeter produced a shock 1-0 win against Luton to knock the Premier League club out of the competition. Luton made 10 changes from the team that picked up its first topflight point of the season against Wolverhampton on Saturday, but the result will still go down as a big upset. Demetri Mitchell scored the winner in the 83rd, but Exeter had to see out the game with 10 men after he was sent off in the 88th.

Wolverhampton was also eliminated after throwing away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at second-division Ipswich. Hwang Hee-Chan and Toti Gomes had seemingly put the visitors on course for the next round after goals inside the first 15 minutes. But Omari Hutchinson, Freddie Ladapo and Jack Taylor sealed a comeback win for Ipswich.


Burnley is still waiting for its first win in the league this season, but it is powering on in the cup after a 4-0 win against Salford City, the fourth division club co-owned by Manchester United greats including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough beat Bradford 2-0 and Port Vale won 2-1 against Sutton United.

Fourth-division Mansfield beat third-division Peterborough 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Lucas Akins’ penalty to even the score in the 93rd had sent the game to a shootout.


James Robson is at


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Matt Irwin Deserves a Spot on the Canucks’ NHL Roster, Right?



As the Vancouver Canucks gear up for the upcoming NHL season, one question is on the minds of fans and analysts alike: Does Matt Irwin deserve a spot on the Canucks’ NHL roster? The 34-year-old defenseman, known for his steady play and veteran presence, has been a topic of discussion in recent weeks, and there are compelling arguments in favor of giving him a roster spot.

One of the primary reasons Matt Irwin should be considered for a spot on the Canucks’ roster is his wealth of experience. Irwin has played over 400 games in the NHL, with stints on multiple teams, including the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, and most recently, the Buffalo Sabres. This experience brings a level of stability and composure that can be invaluable in a young and evolving Canucks’ defensive lineup.

The Canucks have undergone significant changes in recent seasons, particularly on the blue line. Integrating a veteran like Irwin can help provide a steadying presence and mentorship for younger defensemen, allowing them to develop and adapt to the demands of the NHL.

Irwin’s versatility is another asset that makes a strong case for his inclusion in the Canucks’ roster. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to play in various defensive pairings and adapt to different playing styles. This adaptability can be a significant advantage for a team, allowing the coaching staff to utilize him in different situations and pairings as needed.


Furthermore, Irwin is known for his reliability and consistency. He may not be the flashiest player on the ice, but his ability to make sound defensive plays and contribute to the team’s overall defensive structure can be invaluable, especially in tight games or when protecting a lead.

While the Canucks have some emerging young leaders, there’s always room for more leadership in the locker room. Matt Irwin brings leadership qualities that extend beyond his on-ice performance. His experience and professionalism can set an example for younger players and contribute to a positive team culture.

Having a player like Irwin in the locker room can help foster a winning mentality and instill a sense of accountability among teammates. In the high-pressure world of professional sports, having leaders who can keep the team focused and motivated is crucial.

Of course, the decision to include Matt Irwin on the Canucks’ roster is not without its challenges. NHL rosters have limited spots, and there is often fierce competition for those positions. Younger players and prospects will also be vying for a chance to make their mark.

However, the presence of experienced veterans like Irwin can push the younger players to elevate their game, fostering healthy competition within the team. Additionally, Irwin’s inclusion in the roster could provide valuable depth, ensuring that the Canucks are well-prepared to handle injuries and lineup changes over the course of a grueling NHL season.

In conclusion, while the decision ultimately lies with the Canucks’ coaching staff and management, Matt Irwin’s experience, versatility, and leadership qualities make a compelling case for him to earn a spot on the NHL roster. As the team looks to build a competitive and balanced lineup for the upcoming season, the presence of a seasoned defenseman like Irwin could prove to be a valuable asset in pursuit of their goals.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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